IF YOU’RE LOOKING to lose weight, it may be tough to cut some of life’s simple pleasures—like a cold beer at the end of a long day.
It can be easy to forget about all the calories you’re consuming when you’re enjoying a few beers with friends while watching the game, or when you’re sipping on some wine at the family function. Calories from alcohol can stack up, fast.
But does that mean you have to give up alcohol entirely when you’re trying to slim down?
Not necessarily, says Dezi Abeyta, R.D.N., founder of Foodtalk Nutrition. The best diet is one you can maintain, and if you think cutting alcohol completely would be unsustainable for you, then there’s ways to go about having it that won’t kill your calorie count.
It’s all about “how to enjoy their beverage without impacting their overall sustainable fat loss goals and preserve muscle,” he says.
What Does Alcohol Do to the Body?
Alcohol can have some pretty nasty effects. (You’ve probably felt it after a long night out.)
In the long term, though, excessive use of alcohol can lead to a lot of serious diseases, such as fatty liver disease, high blood pressure, and stroke, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A 2015 study published in Current Obesity Reports found a link between high alcohol consumption and high body fat percentage.
There are still ways to enjoy your drink without putting you at risk or packing on the pounds, though. According to the U.S. Dietary Guidelines, it’s suggested that men limit their alcohol intake to two or less drinks per day to avoid these issues.
In the short term, alcohol can be dehydrating and effect sleep patterns. So, if you’re going to continue drinking while trying to cut calories, Abeyta recommends setting up a drinking “curfew” and hydration plan. “It doesn’t need to be crazy; give yourself a drink of water before and after a beverage and discontinue alcohol consumption by 5 or 6 p.m.,” he says.
Abeyta also says if you’re comfortable with tracking calories, then may sure you track the calories you drink, too. This way, you can see exactly how it effects your overall calorie allowance, he says.
While you may not want to take in a few hundred calories on sipping an IPA, there are some other options of low calorie alcohols to sip next time you want to wind down without breaking your allowance. Here’s a few.
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